Los Angeles -- Time Warner Cable next year will test a new
service that targets affluent high-speed data-customers during an Internet-protocol
telephony trial in Portland, Maine.
Beginning in the second quarter, Time Warner will market a
$4.95-per-month secondary phone line that can be used exclusively as an Internet
connection. It can also immediately be bundled with the Road Runner broadband-Internet
service that has achieved a 20 percent penetration rate in Portland.
"It would be a value-added service for the data
business," said Time Warner executive vice president Ann Burr, during a panel session
at the Western Show last week.
"It'll be a low-cost, no-frills service for people who
want a cost-effective second line," she added. "We'll keep it priced lower than
the local-exchange carrier in order to keep it attractive."
However, consumers will be able to make the service their
primary residential telephone line by ordering additional calling features, Burr said.
Burr said marketing the service at a flat rate "keeps
it attractive," while taking advantage of the "compelling economics" of IP
"There are a number of [economic] advantages to
delivering IP-telephony service, rather than the switched phone service we've known for
the last 100 years," she said.
Time Warner has been using Portland-area employees -- also
known as "friendlies" -- to test IP telephony for the last year. Starting in the
second quarter, its new service will be offered to a limited number of Time Warner
subscribers in the area, Burr said.
Consumers who want to take the new service must be Time
Warner subscribers, she added.
Maggie Wilderotter, president and chief executive officer
of Wink Communications Inc., said the idea could produce results similar to the one-rate
calling plans currently fueling the wireless industry.
"Once you took out long-distance and roaming charges,
it fueled revenue growth of 42 percent this year," Wilderotter said.
Both female executives appeared on a "Where We've
Been: Where We're Going" panel that started by looking at how women have advanced
within the cable industry.
Joined by AMC Networks president Kate McEnroe, panelists
agreed that cable's latest round of consolidation would spawn new opportunities for women
over the next year.
But it figures to remain a man's world, Wilderotter said.
"There aren't as many women in leadership roles as
there should be," said Wilderotter. "[Only] one of five women [have taken] a
high-tech company public in the last five years. "A lot of the women who have reached
the top have left to start their own ventures because of the restraints that still exist